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Drones may join Manteca illegal fireworks fight plus city fence amnesty

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POSTED July 9, 2016 12:25 a.m.

Mayor Steve DeBrum wants the possible use of drones next Fourth of July weekend to patrol the skies over Manteca to document illegal fireworks.
He also wants the City Council to look at bumping the first offense fine to $1,000 — the maximum allowed under law. Currently the City of Manteca has a $750 fine for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
At least 20 renters or homeowners who have control of property where illegal fireworks were documented having been launched from using video and/or GPS evidence will be notified in the coming weeks they’re being fined $750 each under Manteca’s new social host ordinance that went into effect last month.
The mayor said staff and council members plan to revisit illegal fireworks sooner than later. He said it is likely to come up in August and not in October as the council had previously requested.
DeBrum — who made it clear he hasn’t decided on any specific course of action besides being committed to step up enforcement against illegal fireworks — stressed he wants to see every viable option vetted.
The use of drones in Manteca came up as a possibility after Lathrop Manteca Fire Department said they would pursue that technology after illegal fireworks burned a home this past weekend.
DeBrum has said he’d like to explore adding additional officers via overtime dedicated to enforcing the illegal fireworks ordinance over the Fourth of July holidays perhaps using unmarked vehicles.
Councilman Richard Silverman has suggested bumping up the first offense fine from $750 to $1,000.
Regardless, DeBrum said the city needs to strike a balance.
“The Safe and Sane fireworks users aren’t the problem,” the mayor said.
He also noted non-profits such as those dealing with homeless issues and youth sports benefit from the sale of Safe and Sane Fireworks. He does not believe banning all fireworks will solve the problem given they are on sale in adjoining cities.
What he does believe will work is increasing the odds significantly that those using illegal fireworks will be caught and fined as heavily as the law allows.
“It’s not just a problem in Manteca,” DeBrum said. “Modesto, Stockton, Ripon, Escalon — every city is having problems with illegal fireworks.”

Manteca 7-foot
fence amnesty
program underway
The City of Manteca’s 7-foot fence amnesty application period ends July 31.
A fence waiver application was mailed with all of the June municipal utility bills.
The waiver is for anyone who constructed a fence between Jan. 1, 1950 and Dec. 1, 2015 measuring between 6 and 7 feet in height in conjunction with required setbacks.
The City Council decreed that fences higher than 6 feet do not comply with the city’s zoning code.
Applying for the waiver assures you won’t be cited for a fence taller than 6 feet (although the waiver application sent to residents says 7 feet.)
Everyone with a 7-foot fence — including those who put one in place when the city allowed them from January 1992 to December 2011 — needs to submit waiver applications to the Community Development Department to avoid future citations.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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